Monday, November 6, 2006

I was traveling to South Africa, and I had this 18-hour flight layover in Rome, and I wanted to see as much of it as I could. A friend of mine picked me up at the airport and began our whirlwind day by taking me to the Coliseum. As we left, we were surrounded by five or six gypsy children who started talking all at once. My friend actually told me to hang onto my stuff, which I desperately tried to do. I had my wallet in my front pants pocket as a precaution, my passport in my sport jacket, a camera bag, and an umbrella because it was raining. Those kids were good at what they did. They did everything to distract us as they tried to grab something of value. Well, my friend fended them off using his umbrella like a sword, and then we breathed a sigh of relief as we checked to see if we had everything. We had just rounded a corner when I saw this little gypsy girl - maybe five years old or so - running over the hill toward us. She was waving something blue in her hand. It was my passport. Unbeknownst to me, the kids had gotten my passport, and unbeknownst to them, this little girl had brought it back to me. It was a good thing - I wasn't about to get into South Africa without my passport!

Friday, October 6, 2006

It was the house Grandma and Granddad built with a little help from their granddaughter, who also happens to be my wife. That was over 40 years ago. Grandma and Granddad are gone, and the house has been in the hands of renters for a number of years. And the landlord, my wife's dad, lived hours away. His age and his health prevented him from keeping up with what was happening to the house and to the land around it, too. When he deeded that house to my wife and her sister, they weren't real pleased with what had happened over the years. The house was run down; the carpet was infested with bugs; various encroachments had slowly whittled away about three acres of the property, and fences had been moved. That's a long list. And nobody in the family had to do anything to accumulate this mess. All we had to do was do nothing.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Occasionally I see that bumper sticker that says, "I brake for antique shops." I'm not a bumper sticker guy, but we could qualify for that one. I guess it depends on who's driving - my wife or me. If it's my wife, we're a lot more likely to break for an antique shop. But my wife is not so much into collecting old stuff, it's about finding items that she had as a girl growing up on a farm that had few modern conveniences. And she's got an eye for what's real and what's just a reproduction: Depression Glass, pottery, butter churns, even old violins. Take the famous Stradivarius violin - there are relatively few originals. There are a lot of copies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It was a great honor to be one of the 10,000 participants at Billy Graham's Amsterdam 2000 conference for evangelists. It's pretty unforgettable to look out over an audience with Christ's ambassadors from 209 countries! The most international gathering in the history of this planet - and it was in Jesus' Name! One Great Commission challenge I just could not get out of my mind that week: almost half the world is under 25 - three billion young people! That's why I was literally moved to tears by the way this historic conference ended.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

There's bad plaque and there's good plaque. The bad kind is that substance you hear about in toothpaste commercials that builds up on your teeth. Then there's good plaque - that's the kind we have hanging on our walls all over the house. Those are good plaques because they have different promises on them from God's Word. For example, one of the first things people have seen over the years as they've entered our home has been a plaque with Isaiah 54:13 on it. It says, "All your children will be taught of the Lord; and great will be the peace of your children." Now, that's meant an awful lot to us; we've hung onto it. Most Christian homes and churches have verses like that on display in various places. But plaques like that are meant to do more than hang on walls. They're meant to float!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jenny's only two years old but she's already teaching her parents. She often starts with one or both by announcing, "Let's pray." Now, she doesn't always pick her times well. Dad might be studying or Mom might be involved in her housework or running to get ready. That doesn't stop Jenny. She'll just say, "Let's pray." She grabs her hands, closes her eyes and she expects you to do the same. She's fully expecting Mom or Dad to drop whatever they're doing. Mom told me, "I don't dare tell Jenny, 'Later honey, I'm too busy now.'" Jenny is only two, but she's got the right idea.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Someone said to me, "Don't forget to tell your wife." I said, "Wait a minute, I've got to write it down. I'm Mr. No 'K.'" They looked at me kind of funny, but see, I know the computer terminology. You know, "K" is the memory capacity of the computer and I think I've reached mine. So, I'm Mr. No "K." Hey, look, I'm too young to be losing my memory. Right? I think I just used it up, that's all. So I have to write things down; things we need at the store, appointments, or lists of errands. I've got to write down an idea before I forget it. I always carry this 4x6 card with me everywhere. I mean, even by my bed, in the bathroom, you know - I've got to write it down. I've got to write down phone numbers. I've got to write down directions. A lot of us write down the things we don't want to forget, except for some real important things.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I was in Georgia a few years ago when a friend said to me, "You know who one of the best football teams in our state is?" And I said, "No, who would that be?" He said, "The Georgia School for the Deaf." That caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting a school for the deaf to be football champions. He said, "Man, when we played them when I was in high school, you always had to get up for that game. They were always the toughest." And I began to think, "How can they play football when you can't hear the signals being called; when they can't hear the plays being called. How would you play football?" He said, "Well, they bring their band to every game and they beat the drums and the signals are called through the drumbeat and they feel the signals through their face." Well, I couldn't do that, but they can. They've got radar I don't have because they have faced a challenge I haven't faced.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Think of a name that goes with magic and you'll probably think of Houdini. Harry Houdini was the master of illusion, incredible escapes which made it almost ironic how he died. He defied all kinds of dangers in his life, like the time they tied him in a straight jacket, hung him upside down from the eaves of a tall building and he got away. And then there was the time he escaped from an air-tight tank filled with water. One of the tricks he did was he would often invite people to come up and hit him as hard as they could right in the stomach and he never winced. One day a young athlete volunteered to come up on stage and try it, and he landed his hardest punch in Houdini's stomach, except Houdini wasn't ready for the trick yet, and that blow to the stomach killed him. Now, it wasn't the most dangerous thing he ever faced. He just wasn't ready.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Some of our fun family memories are the days when I would read stories to my kids. And I did my best to bring those old stories to life. I remember one of their favorites was Winnie the Pooh, so we had Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and Christopher Robin. Oh, and of course, Eeyore. Remember the donkey in Winnie the Pooh? He's the one who usually managed to see the dark side of everything. There always seemed to be something wrong in Eeyore's world.

            

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